We’re in the middle of the month of December. Have you lost it yet? No matter how you cut it, the holidays are often stressful. There are the financial pressures, the parties, the travel, the family get-togethers, and of course the change in routine that can throw off your whole body system.
It’s time to take a step back and remember that the holidays are supposed to be fun! Here are ten tips that may help you keep your emotions on an even keel, and your outlook a little more positive.
- Don’t skip your exercise routine. With all the shopping, parties, and extra activities, it can be difficult to stay with your regular workout routine. Going without exercise contributes to stress, however. Not only is exercise a stress reliever, but going without can pack on the pounds, which can make you even more stressed. Schedule your exercise time every day, even if it’s only for 20 minutes! You may have to be flexible-instead of going to the gym, take a brisk walk. If your with family, invite them to go with you. Just don’t skip it!
- Schedule down time. The holiday months can pile on a lot of extra activities you’re not used to. That can result in a lack of sleep if you’re not careful, which adds to your stress and may lower your immune system enough that you catch a cold or the flu-further increasing your stress! Schedule time each day to relax, read, take a bath, journal, whatever it is, and stick to it. It may be during your lunch hour, or an hour before bed, or whenever is best for you-just pencil it in.
- Decide ahead of time when to leave. Office parties? Family dinners? Decide ahead of time when you need to leave, and stick with it. Staying out late can throw your entire schedule off for days, increasing stress.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no.“ It seems like oftentimes everything gets scheduled on the same week. Enough is enough. Choose the one or two events that you can postpone and see if you can reschedule for after the holidays. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to certain activities if you’re already overloaded.
- Choose one day to shop. Holiday grocery shopping, if you’re not careful, can take over just about every day of the week. Choose one day to do your grocery shopping, make a comprehensive list, and go when you’re well rested and not hungry, to reduce any impulse buys.
- Plan! Good planning will help you avoid a lot of last-minute chaos. Figure out what you’re going to do, when, and schedule it out. When are you visiting family? When are you exchanging presents? When are you going to wrap those presents? When are you traveling? And don’t forget to schedule in down time, time to rest, and time to have fun. The more you can plan ahead of time, the less chaotic things will get.
- Live in the moment. Once you’ve planned things out, do your best to live in the moment. A lot of times we add stress on ourselves by constantly thinking about the future. Did I get my friend the right gift? What am I going to wear to that party? I still have to bake for the school event. These thoughts can take over our peace of mind. Plan carefully, then let it go and live in the moment you’re in.
- Take time to breathe. No matter what you do, you’re likely to experience some stressful days as the holidays get closer. Remember to take regular 5-minute breathing breaks. Find somewhere quiet, even if it’s in the restroom, and take deep, full, slow breaths for at least five minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much it helps you to calm down.
- Be grateful. We can sometimes fill our heads with all the negatives at holiday time-we have too much to do, are spending too much money, and are once again upset with certain family members. Taking time out to remember what you’re grateful for can help you enjoy a better mood. Then remember to let go of those things you can’t change, and enjoy the blessings that are in front of you!
- Set the intention. Most of us don’t think about what we intend to happen over the holidays, but then automatically expect stress and feelings of being overwhelmed. What if you expect something different? Just setting your intention for a happy, rewarding, and fulfilling holiday is the first step toward actually enjoying it. Try affirmations at night and first thing in the morning, something like, “I’m enjoying all the excitement and fun interactions that come with the holidays,” or “I love how easy the holidays are falling into place this year.” Then follow up with daily planning and your good intentions are likely to come true.
What do you do at the holidays to reduce stress? Please share your ideas.
Picture courtesy imagerymajestic via freedigitalphotos.net.